Sure, we’re only nearing the end of August. But if you’re like the marketing team at Alexa, you’re already looking ahead to marketing strategy, budgets, and plans for 2017.
As we prepare for a new year, our success depends on how well we apply what we’ve learned in 2016, to what’s to come.
We know that content was still really important in 2016:
- Types of content (video) – Why 2016 Will Be the Year of Video Marketing
- Distribution of content (mobile) – The Future of Mobile Content: Facebook Instant Articles vs. Google AMP
- Personalization of content (with data) – 8 Personalization Trends That Are Reinventing the Buyer’s Journey
But what else should you takeaway from 2016, to help shape your success in 2017?
11 experts share what they’re taking away from this year—and so should you.
Marketing Quotes 2016: What 11 Experts Want You to Know
If you could write a newspaper headline for the marketing industry in 2016, what would it be? Why?
“Google Saves Twitter”
This is a headline I’d like to read. Someone needs to do it. Twitter is an important tool for marketers. It’s also a force for good around the world. Sadly, Twitter doesn’t have a sustainable business model. Just look at the stock price compared to Facebook over the last 12 months.
Someone will have to buy it before it crashes and burns or fills itself with ads. I’d pick Google for the job.
And yes, as a digital marketer, I love both Twitter and search. I love the subtle interaction between social engagement and search rankings. I love how quality is at the core of both. I think Google would do justice for the 300+ million active Twitter users.
But Facebook? They make money by throttling organic reach. They would change the character of Twitter by adding a pay-to-play algorithm. That’d be no fun…
“Brands: Standout by “Liking” them before they “Like” you.”
For marketers, thinking about approaching social media from a networking and community building aspect rather than a marketing and sales aspect can be very difficult. Brands need to attract customers, but breaking through the clutter is challenging. Every day brands and marketers are spending millions trying to get you to use, keep using, and share that you love their brands. But why aren’t they doing everything they can, and using some of those millions to do it (probably way less that they are spending on those marketing campaigns), making experiences with their brand remarkable. Opportunities to do this are given to brands each and every day and they simply, turn their heads, rave about their latest and great “campaign” as if it were a military conquest, and pass up ways to really create customers for life.
What 2016 trends do you believe are defining (or redefining) our industry?
1. Silos are finally breaking down between marketing departments. PR, Content, Social, Demand Gen, SEO, and Community are moving closer to becoming fully integrated.
2. The campaign mindset is replaced with an always on marketing strategy fueled by remarkable content.
3. Organic is good, paid is better.
What is the biggest challenge you believe marketers should be preparing for 2017?
It will be the temptation to give up on content marketing. Content marketing really started to take root around 2010. The pioneers in this field have lived through a lot and learned a lot of hard lessons. Earlier this year, Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute wrote about the coming trough of disillusionment, and based on what we are seeing in our content marketing workshops, we think he was spot on.
It took 4 or 5 years, but content marketing is becoming mainstream in marketing departments all around the world. However, the majority are disappointed in their results. Based on what we are seeing, the companies that are failing are just missing it. Often times it boils down to just a few, sometimes very subtle, things. For example, most people are still blowing it when it comes to ideation and optimizing their titles. Seems simple, but doing it incorrectly can be the difference between success and failure. Those that can keep pushing forward, keep measuring, keep learning, keep improving, will make it. Others, I fear, will give up.
Video. A VP at Facebook recently reported that 90% of content will be video by 2020. Take a look at your Facebook newsfeed now. How many videos do you see? How about Snapchat/IG stories? Videos are everywhere. Take advantage of it now while your competitors are still in the dark and you’ll have a leg up.
The biggest challenge I believe we are facing for marketers is the continued fragmentation of a variety of marketing channels and the challenges which go with it. The shift away from television and towards mobile by millennials, and frankly other generations is picking up speed. The introduction of streaming audio and video, social media and more creates a challenge for marketers on where to put their hard earned marketing dollars without losing their message in a sea of voices. This is why I continue to encourage my clients to refine and execute campaigns based on their brand message, along with investing in the tools to better understand where their customers are spending their time.
Over the last 5 years, there has been a slow but persistent rumble of a huge beast about to pounce on all marketers and eat them for lunch…MarTech. If you fail to prepare for it, you’re preparing to fail in the new reality of digital marketing.
Now, I cut my teeth on marketing when it was a dark art. I get traditional marketing and it has a place, but the reality is buyers are 70% to 90% through the buying process before they ever raise their hand to a sales person. To find and connect with those buyers before your competition, takes actionable data, keen insight, and marketing agility. For that, you need killer MarTech and a culture that embraces it.
Frankly, many marketers still want to buy eyeballs and use blunt-force advertising like it’s the old days. That outdated model has been a failing strategy for years now, but too many big bosses still don’t nurture a data driven marketing culture, and don’t invest in training and technology to keep pace.
Smart companies want smart marketers. Invest in your career and learn more about MarTech and the tools. You don’t need to know everything, just be informed enough to have intelligent conversations with bosses and peers. Don’t put it off.
The year 2017 will demand complex marketing strategies for brands. It’s been on its way for a while – customers already await a tailored customer journey across every touch point, channel and conversation…but the future is even more heavily:
- Mobile (with acute deployment of VR and AR – more on that in a tick)
There’s no way to achieve the above without the data to boot. Businesses need to invest in the right hardware and software for their individual models and goals. A desktop PC and Google Analytics just aren’t enough anymore.
Therefore, I see this is the marketers’ biggest challenge next year…
Video, virtual reality & augmented reality become the staple
A real game changer for many; how do traditional businesses keep up? Even larger brands may struggle – it seems we have only recently become accustomed to marketing automation, advanced CRM and predictive analytics…now we have this to contend with:
- 24 million virtual reality and augmented reality devices are expected to be sold in 2018.
- More than 12 million virtual reality headsets will be sold in 2017, with sales of augmented reality smart glasses expected to be worth $1.2 billion in the same year.
Got content marketing plans? Your ‘content’ had better involve much more than written words…
- Syndacast predicts 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video.
The above means more budget and huge amounts of time invested in fresh ideas, tech, systems and internal capacity…Are you ready?
2017 will be the year brands will have to shift from advertising and promotion to true storytelling. Brands will need to define their niche within content marketing. They’ll need to learn to scale video marketing in a way consumers will actually pay attention (no video auto-play ads please!), and they will need to personalize and humanize the way they tell authentic stories.
Catering to all existing marketing channels is next to impossible. There’s too much to do and too much to promote. A possible (yet not easy) workaround is being an early adopter. Early adoption is more important than ever thanks to the over-saturation of marketing channels: look for emerging marketing channels that are still unsaturated.
What single tip would you give a new marketer beginning their career in 2016?
Don’t fall for the many marketing “hacks,” “secrets,” or “tricks” that permeate the Internet from self-proclaimed marketing experts. Instead, think about one thing: “How can I provide the most value to my target audience?” Successful marketing today isn’t about tricking your audience into doing what you want; it’s about developing a real relationship with them through your brand and your content. As a bonus, this is exactly how Google evaluates sites in its search engine rankings. This means you can improve your SEO by simply improving the value and quality of your marketing content. For help, see The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.
The marketing landscape changes quickly, so it pays to keep your ear to the ground to stay ahead of new trends and big changes.
As you plan for 2017, let the expertise of these influential marketers be your guide for where the ship is headed.
Consider it your head start for another successful year.
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